Wow....Air Force comes back from 15 points down with 16:55 remaining in the game to win 76-65 over a gutsy Army team. It appreared to me that our Falcons maturity down the stretch combined with refinding their defense out-performed Army's experience. Player of the game was Todd Fletcher who had 16pts (7-10FG, 2/33pt), 6 steals, 1 assist and 3 rebounds.
Let me put this game into perspective. AF started this off with a 7-0 lead but Army came back and began hitting outside shots, got a few more offensive rebounds than did Air Force and slowly pulled away from AF with a 37-30 pt lead at the half. The latter part of the first half and the 1st 3 minutes of the second AF just did not defend the three as Army made 3 3pt shots within a 6 timeframe from 3 minutes remaining in the first half into the first 3 minutes in the second half. Post-game comments by Coach Pilipovich echoed this saying we really ramped up our defense along with a change from our matchup zone to a 2-3 zone. Our defense really got stingy and stopped Army.
On the offensive end, Air Force struggled by, as Coach P said and I agree, that we settled for 3's and/or forced shots versus trusting our offense and working it. The coaches made a decided effort to make the offense go to the basket, attack to the rim. This resulted in shot opportunities, fouls and trips to the line for AF. Note that Mike Lyons, while only shooting 3-13 from the field nagged by a sore shoulder, he set a personal record 12-13 FT's made (those fouls against him a big part of the reason for the FG percentage).
Overall the players worked hard after relearning lessions from last year. I felt that Army initially was stronger on the boards. But AF responded. AF 4 offensive 28 total rebounds vs Army 11 offensive 31 total rebounds. MikeL led the way with four players in double figures at 19pts, Todd 16pts, Taylor 14pts and 11pts Kyle. Fitz only 5pts due to foul troubles early and througout the game, but a force when in with 6 rebounds.
Young guys gave us minutes and points with 11pts off the bench w/ Yon 5pts and freshman Cam Michaels 4pts. No points but great effort by DeLovell Earl with minutes to him, Kam Williams, Marek Olesinski and Tre' Coggins.
The best game AF has played? No. But maybe one of the better confidence builders finding yourself in the hole and coming back to win.
Out of town with no internet access today, so I missed the game. However, from the comments, it sounded like the Falcons put forth a gritty effort to come back and win that game.
I agree with LTC, experience really paid off. Maybe that is what the Falcons needed in that they proved to themselves that they can come back and win a game like today's, instead of the more familiar "woulda, coulda, shoulda" of the past.
Excellent way to start the season! Congratulations Firsties. You did a great job!
Very impressive win for the opener!! Last few years this team would have folded the tent down 15 in the second half. This win is a gutsy tribute to the new coaching skill set and I look for a more confident focused team this year. Well done men!
The tournament seems to have been among teams with a military connection. Navy is notable in their absence. I remember a few years ago that Navy wasn't willing to "step up" and play Air Force. Does anyone have an update regarding this (and the reasons)?
JYST...very good question and 'yes' I have the answer (imagine that ).
The last time AF played was at Navy in the fall of 2005. The AF vs Navy series has been a very even series as you might expect between two Academies. But with the resurgance of AF basketball under Coach Joe Scott AF won 4 in a row from the fall of 2002 to our last meeting at Navy in the fall of 2005 where AF won 64-55. These wins included some big margins to include wins by 15pts in '02, 40pts in '03 and 35pts in '04. Billy Lange was the Navy coach during this time. In the last meeting (I was there and watched this happen) AF played at Navy. During the second half of the game AF player Jake Burtschi got a ball out of bounds turned and, when he didn't see the Navy coach come up beside him (who was yelling instructions out to his team), Jake bumped him. The Navy coach got indignant, actually tried to get into an opposing players face, some words, etc.
Fast forward one year. AF was suppossed to play at Clune Arena the next year but Navy had 'scheduling problems' and cancelled and didn't/wouldn't schedule AF again. Throw the B.S. flag on the scheduling problems. Looking at their OOC schedules the next few years there are no marquee matchups and would have precluded scheduling AF.
Navy was asked to participate in this tourney when it was being discussed in what would be Lange's last year at Navy two years ago (last year was the first year the All-Military Classic was played) but declined due to 'scheduling issues'.
Good news is coach Ed DeChellis is now in his 2nd year as HC at Navy and has said he would like to schedule Navy so I hope it happens at some point in time!
Great question! You win the question of the day prize.....listening to Jim Arthur free giving play by play of AF Falcon BBall!